What is ADHD?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder frequently affecting children where they have trouble paying attention or appear to be hyperactive. Children with ADHD often have trouble at school and at home. Teachers report that they have trouble in schoolwork and make frequent careless mistakes. They have trouble paying attention in class. They may even have trouble paying attention in play activities.
Children with ADHD often lose things such as books, pencils, keys or even their cell phones. They avoid activities that require long periods of focus or concentration. They fidget in class or in any place where they are asked to keep still for long periods of time.
All of these traits make it very difficult for children with ADHD to be successful, particularly in a classroom environment. They are often in trouble in school and disruptive in many places. Parents with children showing ADHD symptoms are often frustrated and confused about what they can do for their child.
One parent was so frustrated. She saw her son getting into fights. He stopped doing his homework and he was constantly fighting with his little brother. Understanding what is behind this troublesome behavior is extremely difficult.
Often children are not diagnosed properly. They are disciplined in the hope that discipline or punishment will “set them straight.” But if the symptoms are really coming from ADHD, this punishment will have no real effect since the problem really isn’t coming from a lack of discipline. It is coming from a neurological disorder that results in these behaviors showing up where they are least desired.
How is ADHD Usually Treated?
If the child and parents are fortunate, the child gets diagnosed early so some form of intervention or treatment can be started before the child has long term problems, particularly at school. Most treatments rely heavily on medication and behavioral training. Many of these medications involve stimulants. When people have ADHD, these stimulants help improve their ability to focus and help them avoid distractions. Occasionally other medications are used which could include antidepressants. This type of medication is often looked at as a long term solution.
Unfortunately, medication can have side effects and also might not be completely successful and treating all of the ADHD symptoms. And some people are less tolerant to those side effects than others. Also, many parents are concerned about starting their children on a long term course with stimulant drugs.
Neurofeedback is a New Approach
Fortunately there are some new approaches that are having significant success in treating patients with ADHD. One of the most interesting and potentially successful approaches is the use of Neurofeedback.
What is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is also called neurobiofeedback or neurotherapy. It is a form of biofeedback that uses a display of brain activity to train someone’s brain. Sensors are placed on the scalp and those sensors measure brain activity. Those measurements are displayed using video or even sound. By measuring brain functions and displaying those brain waves using video or sound, a person is taught to train their own brain.
A person is rewarded for producing brain patterns or brain activity that is optimal. They are gradually taught to regulate their own brain patterns by enforcing good brain patterns with rewards. The rewards are subtle, like good music. Less optimal brain activity is gradually reduced while healthier brain frequencies are encouraged.
This activity usually takes place in a way that looks like a video game. By interacting with this game while having electrodes on the scalp, the patient is gradually taught how to train their own brain to produce brain wave patterns that are better for their functioning and to reduce the patterns that cause them difficulty.
Can Neurofeedback be Used to Treat ADHD?
There is increasing support for using Neurofeedback to treat ADHD. It is certainly worth trying for any person who has been unsuccessful with medication because of side effects or for anyone that doesn’t want to face taking medication for extended periods of times. Neurofeedback must be done by someone that has extensive experience in using this technique for treating brain related issues. It can involve multiple sessions and is a significant commitment in time. But the benefits are also significant. The possibility of someone training their own brain to avoid the brain wave patterns that are causing so many problems and doing this without medication is a substantial long term benefit.
Where to Learn More?
If you are interested in learning more about the use of Neurofeedback, contact our office or another professional Neurofeedback practitioner. Since this is such an important topic, we will also be devoting our next blog post to further exploring how Neurofeedback can be used to treat a wide range of issues including anger management, stress reduction, depression, migraines and more.